Tuesday, November 26, 2013

MLA Jake Stewart Speaks to Students at Blackville School

MLA Jake Stewart with Student Council members
Whitney Tucker, Cassandra Waugh, Candace Purcell
and Graham Manderville
On Monday, November 25, MLA Southwest Miramichi Jake Stewart visited Blackville School to speak to middle and high school students about the importance of community leadership, giving back, and the Josie Foundation.

During the presentation, Jake Stewart, local MLA, founder of the Josie Foundation and an active community member, recalled times in his life when he felt he was not doing enough to help others.

While on a Thailand vacation in 2004, he had been present for the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which was the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph, and killed approximately 275 000 people. Fear stricken, he, his now wife, and two friends were stranded in the plane to their destination, all of them were unaware of the disaster unfolding below.

Eight hours after landing, they finally made it from the airport to their hotel, which was miraculously saved. Panicked, they arrived at the hotel and realized the magnitude of the natural disaster. The next day, when asked to help collect dead bodies and search for survivors, he had declined out of fear of catching fatal diseases such as malaria. He went on to say that this decision is one that he will forever regret, but insisted that he may not be the person he is today if he had not have said no.

After this experience, he had realized the importance of giving back. A few years later, he had founded the Josie Foundation; a local, nonprofit organization aimed to financially help and support people dealing with a chronic illness. Jake Stewart had stressed the importance of helping others, and encouraged the student at Blackville School to look out for one another, and help the community in any way possible. For more information on the Josie Foundation, visit www.josiefoundation.ca.

Article by Cassandra Waugh
Photo by Taylor Gillespie